Preview: Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby U-16 Girls Plate and Cup finals
December 16, 2021 1:47 pm Site Editor
The Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Girls Cup and Plate finals day takes place at IT Carlow this Saturday, 18 December with a host of silverware up for grabs.
Here, we take a look at some of the teams competing on the day.
Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby U-16 Girls Cup Final
Naas RFC v Wicklow RFC – IT Carlow, Pitch 1 – Saturday, 18 December (KO 1pm)
There is a familiar theme here in that Naas and Wicklow have been able to mould talented athletes into cohesive, productive teams over the last three years.
In fact, Naas has been five years in development, starting out as an U-12 team with just four players, impressively growing to a squad of 27.
It has all been based on building a strong identity and culture on and off the pitch which welcomes new players to the group.
The team has been well supported by parents and has a strong coaching team, led by Sean O’Sullivan, which has enabled the girls to develop their skills and grow as a group.
The philosophy of the team is to find a balance between the forward and back play, getting the basics right.
This enables a heads-up approach to adapt quickly in open or broken play. The squad aims to be consistent, committed and agile in attack and defence.
The Kildare club’s competitive spirit has enabled them to remain unbeaten at home over the last three seasons.
Wicklow has dedicated Monday and Wednesday nights to preparing for a cup campaign that has seen them overcome Skerries, Rhinos and Tullamore in the previous rounds.
They have had an equally impressive record over the last three years, playing an expansive, ball-in-hand style.
The co-captains are Amelie Birrell and Deirbhile Gavaghan, two fine leaders shouldering a lot of responsibility for setting standards.
No 8 Gavaghan is a solid ball carrier at the back of a powerful pack in which the workload is evenly distributed from one-to-eight.
It has been the forwards’ ability to establish dominance that has been their foundation for front-foot football.
Half-backs Birrell and Abby Healy, the out-half, have been provided with the quick ball necessary to play to width.
Wicklow have the bulk of the squad back from the U-14 final two years ago when they got the better of Naas.
Coach Karl Birrell will know this guarantees nothing. Naas have improved enough to make this a close one to call.
Paths to the final:
First round: Byes for both clubs
Second round: Naas beat Navan; Wicklow beat Skerries
Quarter-final: Naas beat Mullingar Blue; Wicklow beat Rhinos
Semi-final: Naas beat Mullingar Red; Wicklow beat Tullamore
Wicklow RFC U-16
Coaches – Karl Birrell, Denis Brennan, Darren Curran, Suzanne Bolger
Co-Captain – Deirbhile Gavaghan and Amelie Birrell
Squad – Kellie Magee, Roisin Ni Mhurchu, Jessie Harte, Robyn Coffey, Lucie Gorman, Rebecca Brennan, Deirbhile Gavaghan, Sophie Murphy, Ellen Harkin, Faye Bolger, Clodagh Forsey, Abby Healy, Clara Dunne, Amelie Birrell, Millie Leonard, Maya Kelly, Hannah Lawless, Lara Maria Chassange, Sadhbh Kingston, Leila Fitzpatrick, Sarah Doherty, Eve Stokes
Naas RFC U-16
Coaches – Sean O’Sullivan, Frank Ahern, Roddy Greene, Leslie Kelly, Malcolm Sargent, Ian Ryan, Ciara Doyle
Captain – Sophie Cullen.
Squad – Sophie Cullen, Lily Haslam, Rhoni Hughes, Maisie Molloy, Katie Dillon, Isabel Furlong, Heidi Lyons, Caitlin O’Sullivan, Eabha Cullen, Orla Doyle, Muireann Cawley, Missy Maher, May Kelleher, Erica Vaughan, Saoirse Aherne, Eilis Reid, Oliwia Staniewicz, Mae Coonan, Caoimhe Greene, Debbie Nnabujwu, Hannah Sargent, Rachel Clarke, Sophie Carroll, Tara Kelly, Sarah Treacy, Rosin Carroll, Caoimhe O’Donohue
Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby U-16 Girls Plate Final
Navan RFC v Enniscorthy RFC – IT Carlow, Pitch 2 – Saturday, 18 December (KO 1pm)
Enniscorthy came through their quarter-final and semi-final in the Leinster Plate with late tries to turn pending defeat into victory.
Prop Sasha O’Danza pounced against Athy and Eva Nolan came up trumps against Wexford in what were both four-point wins.
It is this never-say-die attitude that is their hallmark, knowing they can pull the game out of the bag, if they can keep it close going into the latter stages of the game.
Enniscorthy draw on players from the local GAA clubs, like Raparees, Davidstown-Courtnacuddy, Marshalstown, Duffry Rovers, Bree and Ballyhogue.
Unfortunately, a Wexford county camogie trial will take away one or two girls on a day when they will need everyone.
Captain Carla Cloney is a versatile back, effective in multiple positions and speedy Nessa Carty is their top try-scorer from out-half.
Flanker Caitlin Doyle has improved in leaps and bounds, while front-rower O’Danza is always around the ball.
Navan have been building nicely since 2013 with several of the players starting at only seven years of age.
Along the way, successful Give It A Try (GIAT) Programmes and word of mouth have built the team to a squad of 25.
Girls won’t join unless they are having fun and this is one of the core philosophies motivating the coaching and management team.
To this end, they have regularly organised social days out, trips to internationals, a weekend in Carlingford Adventure Centre.
There was even a very cold training session on Mornington beach in December where all the girls got in for a swim, all the while building a special bond.
This group trains two nights a week, come rain hail or snow. Two years ago, the work paid off when winning the U-14 Plate final against Mullingar.
This season, Navan were unfortunate to meet a well-drilled Naas team in the second round of the cup.
This led to a journey through the Plate, bringing them to this much-anticipated showdown with Enniscorthy.
Paths to the final:
Cup first round: Navan lost to Naas; Enniscorthy gave w/o to Mullingar Blue
Plate first round: Navan beat Ashbourne-Balbriggan; Enniscorthy received w/o from New Ross
Quarter-final: Navan beat Arklow-Gorey; Enniscorthy beat Athy
Semi-final: Navan beat CDS (Coolmne, DLSP, Seapoint); Enniscorthy beat Wexford
Navan RFC U-16
Coaches – John Molloy, Kenny Connor, Marylou Quinn, John Brady, Simon Marchant, Tony White, Edwina White, Debbie Brady
Captain – Chloe Brady
Squad – Alex Connor, Anna Marchant, Aoife White, Caitlin Ratty, Chloe Brady, Ella O’Higgins, Emma Brogan, Emily Flynn, Emily Moyles, Emma Hyland, Faye Kellett-Forde, Katie Clarke, Katie Kearney, Kym McGrath, Lia MacEwan, Lillian Brady, Meah Reid, Molly Egan, Sadhbh Casserly, Sarah Molloy, Sarah White, Sinéad Doherty, Tia Keague, Aisling McLoughlin, Ava McGeer
Enniscorthy RFC U-16
Coaches – Ger O’Leary, Declan O’Brien, Martin Creavin, Tom Guinan
Captain – Carla Cloney
Squad – Megan Rowe, Sarah O’Leary, Sasha O’Danza, Caoimhe Creavin, Orla Guinan, Leah Guinan, Alex Foley, Caitlin Doyle, Teresa Kelly, Danielle Cloney, Nessa Carty, Amy O Brien, Eva Nolan, Katie Collins, Aoife Doran, Carla Cloney, Jagoda Harszczyk, Ella Cosgrave, Katie Lett, Siún Ryan, Rachael Murphy, Ciábha Carty